Newstips: Southside AIDS Group at 25 & Other Stories from the Local Reporting Initiative

Betty Smith was a respiratory therapist who was tired of seeing AIDS patients treated as pariahs when she founded the South Side Help Center in 1987.

She started by reaching out to African American ministers. When many were “hesitant,” she started going to their wives.

Today the South Side Health Center offers HIV testing, education and outreach programs along with myriad community services like youth mentoring and substance abuse counseling. The group is also dedicated to fostering other, younger community groups.

The group is turning 25 this year, and it’s featured in Windy City Times’ AIDS At 30 series, part of the Chicago Community Trust’s Local Reporting Initiative and the subject of one of several new posts at the Community News Project blog.

There’s the story of “Nina,” the first woman in the WINGS program of Cook County’s new prostitution court, profiled by Sarah Ostman at Gapers Block. And there are lots of stories of residents of Southwest Side communities collected by the Southwest Neighborhood Youth Writers Project. Check it out.


This post was taken from Community Media Workshop’s Newstips blog, written by Curtis Black. Visit the Newstips blog for more stories from Chicago’s diverse communities.

Newstips: Communities to banks: You can fix housing crisis, economy

Banks caused the housing crisis — and the financial crash which threw millions out of their jobs — and they can fix it, according to a new report.

By writing down underwater mortgages to market value – using a relatively small portion of bailout financing they’ve received – banks could put a floor on the housing market, stem spiraling foreclosures, and provide the economy with a badly-needed second stimulus, creating millions of jobs over the next decade, the New Bottom Line Campaign argues in a new analysis.

It was released in Chicago last week at a vacant home on the West Side that’s being rehabbed under a new program — which demonstrates how community pressure can force banks to step up and take responsibility, organizers say.

(And it came out the same day Mayor Rahm  Emanuel announced a foreclosure recovery program that includes not one single community on the hard-hit West Side.)

The South Austin Coalition, one of nearly a thousand community organizations nationwide (including Chicago-based National Peoples Action) in the New Bottom Line Campaign, released the report at a home in the Austin community that’s being rehabbed by the Westside Health Authority.

Financing comes from a $2.4 million community restoration fund, won after a long campaign by the Coalition to Save Community Banking that targeted U.S. Bank after it took over the locally-owned Park National Bank in 2009.


Read more on this story on the Newstips Blog

Newstips: A Bake Sale for the Merc

Photo taken by Flickr user Tammy Green for

Despite nearly $1 billion in profits last year, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange is crying about the recent state tax hike — and community groups across the city feel their pain.

They want to help.  Really.

Community activists and teachers will be among those hosting a bake sale for CME Group Monday, June 13 at 10 a.m. at CME headquarters, 20 S. Wacker.  It’s sponsored by Grassroots Collaborative.

It seems clear that CME’s recent threat to move its headquarters is a publicity stunt.  The company’s revenues (and tax liabilities) are generated at its trading floors and at its huge, brand-new data center in Aurora, which would be much harder to move than its corporate offices.

Furthermore, three of the four states CME is said to be considering – Indiana, New York, and New Jersey—have higher corporate tax rates than Illinois, even after the recent tax hike here.*

(The fourth state is Texas, where a Tea Party legislature and a radically pro-business agenda of tax cuts and deregulation have transformed a widely-touted “economic miracle” – based largely on an explosion of minimum-wage jobs – into an economic basket case.)

Read more on this story on Curtis Black’s Newstips blog.






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